Auckland -> Wellington.
South down the East Coast and return through the Central North Island
River boat cruises don’t seem to be even promoted any more – imitation bamboo rafts made of plastic with long tail propulsion are now the go.
Pingyao is a city that retains, for me at least, some of the feeling of China as it was 15+ years ago.
Tourism is being encouraged but the streetscape, inside the walls, gives impression that it is still fairly original. No superhighways, tall buildings or fast food joints.
Unbeknownst to us Pingyao also has a large annual photo exhibition – we arrived in the middle of it.
Pingyao is notable in part for the old draft banks and security companies that took care of rich peoples assets. The security companies provided fierce armed kung fu fighters to protect their client’s valuables during transport and bank/security company reception areas of varying opulence commensurate with the wealth of the client – similar to what you see today from retail banking through to private banking, family offices and so on.
Shortly after taking the photo below a voice from somewhere near the gas station bellowed “None of your bloody pictures around here”
We moved away a little, past the gas station on the opposite side of the road and took the photo below – including a madonna sitting on a pile of white blocks between the buildings – we did not manage to get close before the voice was there again “Didn’t you hear me – none of your bloody photos around here!”.
We had not seen any other cars for a long time and visualising the headline “Tourists disappear on Route 66” left town.
Looking back my wife spotted a man with binoculars in the shadows of the gas station forecourt watching us closely.
We discovered later that the gentleman with the binoculars was well known at the time for yelling at people who stopped in Amboy – he has long since moved on and last I heard the gas station actually even sells fuel.
I walked into the Cafe – the whole restaurant fell silent and everyone watched me walk to the counter, I bought a coffee and feeling all those eyes on me promptly left – the world outside was still reassuringly normal – suburban driveways and passing traffic – phew!
Black & white images from Australia & New Zealand, many taken with Kodak Technical Pan film(now discontinued) and processed as transparencies – a favourite film and process of mine. The tech pan transparencies below can be identified by their black borders.